cover image Fire When: Great Naval Stories from Manila Bay to Vietnam

Fire When: Great Naval Stories from Manila Bay to Vietnam

William H. Honan. St. Martin's Press, $27.95 (364pp) ISBN 978-0-312-08778-4

Honan, the chief cultural correspondent for the New York Times , calls upon combatants, journalists, historians and statesmen to sketch famous naval battles, and the accounts he assembles convey the physical and moral demands of war with an immediacy rarely matched by more orthodox histories. Joseph L. Stickney, a reporter for the New York Herald , stood alongside Commodore George Dewey when he gave the eponymous order that started the Spanish-American War in 1898. Rudyard Kipling as well as Georg von Hase, first gunnery officer of the German battle cruiser Derfflinger , observe the destruction of English battle ships during the 1916 Battle of Jutland; Sir Roger Keyes, then vice admiral of the British navy, describes the 1918 St. George's Day raid on German U-boat pens in occupied Belgium; Samuel Eliot Morison, the official historian of naval operations during WW II, discusses the raid on Pearl Harbor. Perhaps the most wrenching entry is contributed by Marilyn Elkin, who spent 24 years pursuing the fate of her husband, declared missing in Vietnam: in 1990 Navy Lieutenant Frank Elkins's remains were finally identified and returned to the U.S. for burial. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Jan.)